Is chocolate good for your heart? It depends

Mon Aug 29, 2011 4:14am EDT
 
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By Ben Hirschler

PARIS (Reuters) - Chocolate may be good for the heart but cardiologists are not giving you a license to indulge.

New research presented at Europe's biggest medical meeting Monday suggested chocolate consumption might be associated with a one third reduction in the risk of developing heart disease.

Just why there should be such a link was unclear, the European Society of Cardiology congress was told.

There has been a string of scientific studies in recent years showing a potential health benefit from eating chocolate. Dark chocolate, in particular, contains compounds called flavanols thought to be good for the blood system.

In an attempt to paint a clearer picture, Oscar Franco and colleagues from the University of Cambridge pooled results from seven studies involving 100,000 people.

Five of the studies showed a beneficial link between eating chocolate and cardiovascular health, while two did not.

Overall, the findings showed the highest levels of chocolate consumption were associated with a 37 percent reduction in cardiovascular disease and a 29 percent reduction in stroke compared with the lowest levels.

Franco said there were limitations with the pooled analysis, which did not differentiate between dark and milk chocolate, and more research was needed to test whether chocolate actually caused better health outcomes or if it was due to some other confounding factor.   Continued...

 
<p>Chocolates topped with sunflower seeds are displayed during the 2nd Chocolate Fair in Barcelona in this October 21, 2006 file photo. REUTERS/Albert Gea</p>